The Surprising Reason Women Are Getting Botox in Their Bladders

While you’re probably already well-versed in Botox Cosmetic’s aesthetic uses (good-bye forehead wrinkles), it turns out this anti-aging injection is capable of much more than just addressing cosmetic concerns. Many people turn to Botox Cosmetic for medical reasons such as excessive sweating or reoccurring migraines, but there’s one use for the treatment that’s still sliding under the radar: fixing urinary incontinence.  

For those of us who don’t suffer from this condition, urinary incontinence can be categorized into two kinds of cases: the involuntary leakage of urine, or the sudden, urgent feeling to urinate without the bladder actually being full. That being said, Botox Cosmetic as a treatment for urinary incontinence only works for the latter condition, and typically lasts for six to 18 months.

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“The urinary incontinence this works to fix is the instance in which the brain tells the muscles in the bladder to squeeze when it’s not time to go, so the muscles are squeezing prematurely because the brain is telling it to,” explains Dr. Kimberly Ferrante, uro-gynecologist with NYU Langone Medical Center. By injecting Botox Cosmetic into the bladder, Dr. Ferrante can actually relax those bladder muscles and prevent them from unnecessarily squeezing. 

Luckily, this treatment for urinary incontinence isn’t a surgical procedure, but rather something that can simply be performed in the office. “We go in with a little camera called a cystoscope—it's actually more narrow than a pen—then we do injections with the Botox after the patient has been treated with lidocaine on their bladder,” she says. 

Even better? The success rate is high. “Botox for this issue is typically 70 to 80 percent effective in helping people deal with their urgency incontinence, making it a good option for many who suffer from it,” Dr. Ferrante confirms. 

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